Researchers from the Colorado Cancer Center reporting in the prestigious journal Carcinogenesis explain the unique mechanism exerted by grape seed extract to destroy cancer cells that target the head and neck. More than half a million people worldwide will fall victim to squamous cell carcinoma involving the head and neck, and 12,000 will die in the US alone. In an experimental model using mice, scientists have found that grape seed extract triggers DNA damage in the cancer cells and inhibits the necessary repair mechanism used by the cells to regenerate and multiply.
Grape seed extract has been the subject of multiple studies that demonstrate the polyphenols ability to support brain health, improve cognition and lower the risk of dementia. Regular consumption of red grapes or supplementation with grape seed extract is now found to be an important ally in the war against cancer.
Grape Seed Extract Lowers the Growth Rate of Certain Cancers by up to 67%
The lead researcher, Dr. Rajesh Agarwal and his team determined that supplementing mice with grape seed extract (GSE) reduced the growth of certain cancers by up to 67%, lowered the rate of progression of deadly tumors and DNA damage while inducing apoptosis (programmed cell death) of the cancer cells. Mice have been used to study specific cancer cell lines because they parallel tumor progression and metastasis in a manner similar to humans.
The researchers found that GSE created an environment that is unfavorable for cancer cell growth. Cancer cells require a specific environment, blood supply and metabolic nutrients to be able to propagate. If any of these pathways are disrupted, cancer cell death occurs. The scientists commented “Cancer cells are fast-growing cells… not only that, but they are necessarily fast growing. When conditions exist in which they can't grow, they die.”
Grape Seed Extract Destroys the Metabolic Pathway Used by Cancer Cells
The team determined that GSE both damages cancer cells' DNA (via increased reactive oxygen species) and stops the pathways that allow repair. Most important, they found there was no toxicity from supplementation. GSE killed the cancer cells by knocking out one of several vulnerable paths necessary for growth, and left the healthy tissue untouched. Dr. Agarwal concluded “I think the whole point is that cancer cells have a lot of defective pathways and they are very vulnerable if you target those pathways. The same is not true of healthy cells.”
Though this study focused specifically on GSE as a therapeutic agent for cancers of the head and neck, prior research has shown the natural compound effective against leukemia and tumors affecting the skin, breast, colon, lung, stomach and prostate. Nutrition experts recommend supplementation with an organically harvested grape seed extract (150 mg per day) to support brain health and fight cancerous tumor development.